News & ToursAugust 11, 2015

Tiger on thinking long term, opening a restaurant and Wisconsin mosquitos

HAVEN, Wis. -- Still playing to media-center packed houses, Tiger Woods fended off some stout rally-killing efforts to reflect on everything from the state of the game, to the size of Wisconsin's mosquitos and even his new life as a restaurateur.

Woods arrived visibly sweating after playing a muggy morning nine under the ever-watchful eye of life consultant Rob McNamara and swing consultant Chris Como, each trailing their student in uncomfortably close fashion. Como, still very much on Team Tiger, was clad in the opposite two-tone Nike shirt as Woods in a bizarro effort at yin-yang dynamics. Or just very bad fashion scripting luck.

The clean-shaven 278th ranked player in the world is preparing for the 2015 PGA at a Whistling Straits layout he's played twice in uninspired fashion (T-24 in 2004, T-28 in 2010), Woods was asked if his game had slipped a bit. The four-time PGA Champion sounds focused very much on the long-term and relying on experience in his old (39) age now that he's no longer able to overpower a course.

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"My understanding of how to play the game has gotten much better," he said. "How to play all different types of venues, all different types of grasses. I played all around the world. There's a lot of people that have stuck to the United States and just played here, instead of playing at a global level. I think playing globally helped me in my career, and that's one of the reasons I had as much success, not just in the United States, but around the world, because I got a chance to experience a lot of things early on.

"And I rely on that knowledge a lot when I'm playing, especially as I'm getting older now, to get me around the golf courses and to get me around different types of venues, and to understand how to play them."

The tone was upbeat but clearly tempered in what is a lost year. Not that he knows where he stands.

"I don't know my exact ranking right now," he said. "I know I'm in the 200s somewhere. But as far as paying attention to it, no. I'm just trying to get better."

Oddly, Woods was more believable in this context by signaling that he's in for the long haul and never once tried to suggest his game is on the cusp of winning form. However, Woods did not concede his loss of distance relative to today's longest hitters would be an issue at Whistling Straits.

"I think that if you're driving the golf ball well on any Pete Dye golf course, you're going to have short irons in and you're going to have a lot of looks, because you'll be able to feed the golf ball into these little kind of areas that he has. But if you're not, if you're missing those areas, then you're in for it."

Woods sounds more concerned with another Whistling Straits hazard.

"Obviously there's a lot of mosquitos out there."

Asked about returning to Wisconsin, Woods returned to the insects that he says galleries are "kicking up" when walking in the native grass-lined faux dunes.

"I've never seen mosquitos like this, like they've had here. I live in Florida and we go out in the evenings and you may get beaten, but here you get eaten alive."

Tiger did compliment the "hearty" nature of Badger state fans and the "sports mad" culture. That love of sports, he said, inspired the opening of his new Jupiter restaurant this week.

"We all go to sports bars, and kick back a few and watch the games. That to me is fun. Hence, I wanted to create an atmosphere like that. And do something that's also different than what we have in that area. And I think we've accomplished that."

Next up starting Thursday at 8:15 off the 10th tee with Martin Kaymer and Keegan Bradley, accomplishing something he hasn't done in a while: contending in a major championship.

Follow @GeoffShac


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